The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939)

93 mins | Drama | 28 April 1939

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were The Castles, The Life of Vernon and Irene Castle and The Romantic Vernon Castles. According to NYT, RKO wanted Irene Castle to play the role of her mother in the film, but she declined, preferring to have her role limited to consultant. The NYT notes that Mrs. Castle was pleased with the film and commented that Fred Astaire played the role of Vernon perfectly, even fitting into his old uniforms. Mrs. Castle noted that some of the episodes depicted in the film were slightly exaggreated and the character of Walter Ash, a black man who was the Castles protector in Paris, was altered to fit actor Walter Brennan. This picture marked Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire's last collaboration for RKO. Materials contained in the RKO Production Files at the UCLA Theater Arts Library add that the picture was partially filmed on location at the Russel Ranch at Triunfo, CA; Newport Beach, CA; Bel Air, CA and the Long Beach Municipal Airport. According to modern sources, in 1937, RKO paid Irene $20,000 for the rights to her story. Under her RKO contract, Mrs. Castle had approval of costumes and script treatment on which she worked closely with scriptwriter Oscar Hammerstein, II. She plagued the studio with complaints over departures from the script and Rogers' costumes and hairstyles. Mrs. Castle opposed Rogers as the lead and was particularly upset that Rogers refused to cut her hair in the style of the "Castle Bob." The studio silenced Mrs. Castle with an additional payment of $5,000. In 1915, the Castles starred in ...

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The working titles of this film were The Castles, The Life of Vernon and Irene Castle and The Romantic Vernon Castles. According to NYT, RKO wanted Irene Castle to play the role of her mother in the film, but she declined, preferring to have her role limited to consultant. The NYT notes that Mrs. Castle was pleased with the film and commented that Fred Astaire played the role of Vernon perfectly, even fitting into his old uniforms. Mrs. Castle noted that some of the episodes depicted in the film were slightly exaggreated and the character of Walter Ash, a black man who was the Castles protector in Paris, was altered to fit actor Walter Brennan. This picture marked Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire's last collaboration for RKO. Materials contained in the RKO Production Files at the UCLA Theater Arts Library add that the picture was partially filmed on location at the Russel Ranch at Triunfo, CA; Newport Beach, CA; Bel Air, CA and the Long Beach Municipal Airport. According to modern sources, in 1937, RKO paid Irene $20,000 for the rights to her story. Under her RKO contract, Mrs. Castle had approval of costumes and script treatment on which she worked closely with scriptwriter Oscar Hammerstein, II. She plagued the studio with complaints over departures from the script and Rogers' costumes and hairstyles. Mrs. Castle opposed Rogers as the lead and was particularly upset that Rogers refused to cut her hair in the style of the "Castle Bob." The studio silenced Mrs. Castle with an additional payment of $5,000. In 1915, the Castles starred in The Whirl of Life, which was loosely based on the couple's life (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.4919).

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
PERSONAL & COMPANY INDEX CREDITS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
28 Mar 1939
p. 3
Film Daily
31 Mar 1939
p. 6
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jan 1939
pp. 6-7
Hollywood Reporter
28 Mar 1939
p. 3
Motion Picture Daily
29 Mar 1939
p. 1, 9
Motion Picture Herald
17 Dec 1938
p. 48
Motion Picture Herald
1 Apr 1939
p. 26
New York Times
31 Mar 1939
p. 19
New York Times
2 Apr 1939
---
Variety
5 Apr 1939
p. 15
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Pandro S. Berman in charge of production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward and ensembles
MUSIC
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Montage
DANCE
Dance dir
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
STAND INS
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book My Husband (New York, 1919) by Irene Castle and her short story "My Memories of Vernon Castle" in Everybody's Magazine (Nov 1918--Mar 1919).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
MUSIC
"Missouri Waltz," by John V. Eppell and "Too Much Mustard," music by Cecil Macklin.
SONGS
"Only When You're in My Arms," words and music by Bert Kalmar, Herman Ruby and Con Conrad; "The Yama Yama Man," words and music by Otto Haverback and Karl Hoschna; "By the Light of the Silvery Moon," words and music by Edward Madden and Gus Edwards; "When You Wore a Tulip," words and music by Jack Mahoney and Percy Wenrich; "It's a Long Way to Tipperary," words and music by Harry William and Jack Judge; "Waiting for the Robert E. Lee," words and music by L. Wolfe Gilbert and Lewis Muir; "Rose Room," words and music by Harry Williams and Art Hickman and "Little Brown Jug," words and music by R. A. Eastburn.
SONGWRITERS/COMPOSERS
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Castles
The Life of Vernon and Irene Castle
The Romantic Vernon Castles
Release Date:
28 April 1939
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 31 Mar 1939
Production Date:
10 Nov 1938--26 Jan 1939; montage sequences 25 Oct--29 Oct 1938
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
30 March 1939
LP8775
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Victor System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
93
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
4853
SYNOPSIS

Vernon Castle is performing a slapstick routine as "second banana" to vaudevillian Lew Fields when he meets Irene Foote, the daughter of a staid New Rochelle doctor. Irene, who loves to dance, arouses Vernon's ambition to become a great dancer, and she weans him away from vaudeville. After working on dance routines together for three months, they are married and go to Paris under the misconception that they have been hired to perform dance specialties. The Parisian managers, however, only want Vernon to repeat his slapstick act. Irene and Vernon are down to their last franc when they meet Maggie Sutton, an English talent agent who gets them a chance to exhibit their dance, the Castle Walk, at the Cafe de Paris. The Walk is an immediate success, and the Castles' rise to stardom is meteoric. Soon the fashion world is emulating Irene's new hair bob and Vernon's shoes. After many successful tours, they return to the United States to retire and spend quiet hours together. When war breaks out, Vernon, who is British, enlists in the British Flying Service. Many dangerous missions later, he is sent back to the U.S. to teach flying to American aviators. Separated for a long time by the war, the Castles arrange a romantic meeting at a quiet hotel near the air field, and as Irene anxiously awaits the return of her husband, Vernon tragically dies in a plane crash when he swerves to avoid a collision with a student ...

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Vernon Castle is performing a slapstick routine as "second banana" to vaudevillian Lew Fields when he meets Irene Foote, the daughter of a staid New Rochelle doctor. Irene, who loves to dance, arouses Vernon's ambition to become a great dancer, and she weans him away from vaudeville. After working on dance routines together for three months, they are married and go to Paris under the misconception that they have been hired to perform dance specialties. The Parisian managers, however, only want Vernon to repeat his slapstick act. Irene and Vernon are down to their last franc when they meet Maggie Sutton, an English talent agent who gets them a chance to exhibit their dance, the Castle Walk, at the Cafe de Paris. The Walk is an immediate success, and the Castles' rise to stardom is meteoric. Soon the fashion world is emulating Irene's new hair bob and Vernon's shoes. After many successful tours, they return to the United States to retire and spend quiet hours together. When war breaks out, Vernon, who is British, enlists in the British Flying Service. Many dangerous missions later, he is sent back to the U.S. to teach flying to American aviators. Separated for a long time by the war, the Castles arrange a romantic meeting at a quiet hotel near the air field, and as Irene anxiously awaits the return of her husband, Vernon tragically dies in a plane crash when he swerves to avoid a collision with a student pilot.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.